What is 5G?

5G is the latest generation for wireless mobile and internet services.

5G is the 5th generation of global wireless technology used for mobile and internet services, building on the progress of 4G, 3G, 2G and 1G. Like the earlier generations, it is made up of radio waves rather than physical matter so it is not something you can touch or feel, unlike the equipment that supports it.

5G is more efficient, uses less energy and provides more advanced capabilities than previous generations of mobile technology, and it offers more benefits than just faster downloads, higher data limits or reduced time delays in loading content (known as latency). The diagram below shows the evolution of the generations from 1G through to 5G.

a rising arrow from left to right listing the 5 generations of wireless technology

Like previous generations, 5G is not a single product but rather an industry standard against which telecommunications companies (known as carriers) roll out 5G technology with equipment that uses radio waves.

5G networks have higher bandwidths and are more reliable than other mobile networks. This means 5G can be used for a new range of applications that need a lot of data, such as remote health services. For example, 5G has the capacity to support telemedicine in rural areas by enabling real-time, high-quality video. This will reduce waiting times for specialist services and allow people to access consultations from home without having to travel long distances.

While some of the applications of 5G are known, many new services and applications are expected to be developed over time as coverage becomes more widely available and new applications are developed specifically to capture the benefits of 5G.

In Australia, 5G coverage is now available, at least partially, in all capital cities, except Darwin; and in a number of regional centres in each state. There are no 5G deployments in the Northern Territory at the moment. You can see where 5G services are available by visiting the mobile carriers’ websites below: